GOOD GAWD, Y’ALL!

Tonight’s Tune Damage embed is another beloved classic from my misspent youth.



Even in the eclectic, anything-goes era when it was released, Edwin Starr’s version of “War” managed to not sound quite like anything else on the radio at the time, a genuine standout. Mark-1, Mod-0 antiwar-shitlib sentiment lyrically, of course, but I never was bothered by that; Edwin Starr’s powerful, rock ’em-sock ’em, old-school-R&B vocal performance simply flattens all other considerations. Plus, this is Soul Train we’re talking about here, man—the real-deal original, the likes of which have never been equalled and will never be seen again. Taken altogether, there just ain’t no gainsaying this vid far as I’m concerned. The raw data:

Motown hitmakers Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong wrote this song. Starr began his career recording for Ric-Tic Records, a Detroit label that was a rival to Motown. In 1968, Motown bought Ric-Tic, which gave Starr access to their writers and producers.

This is a protest song about the Vietnam War, although it makes a broader statement of the need for harmony in our everyday lives.

“War” was one of the first Motown songs to make a political statement. The label had always been focused on making hit songs, but around this time Motown artists like The Temptations and Marvin Gaye started releasing songs with social commentary, many of which were written by Whitfield.

The Temptations were the first to record this; it was included on their 1970 album Psychedelic Shack. Motown had no intention of releasing it as a single, but many in the protest movement, especially college students, made it clear that the song would be a big hit if it was. Motown head Berry Gordy had other plans for The Temptations and didn’t want them associated with such a controversial song, so he had Starr record it and his version was released as a single. Starr didn’t have as big a fan base to offend.

This song has a very distinct tambourine part, played by percussionist Jack Ashford. He was one of the Motown Funk Brothers who played on the track; bass player Bob Babbitt and guitarist Dennis Coffey were also part of it.

Coffey came up with the psychedelic guitar sound Norman Whitfield used on “Cloud Nine” by The Temptations, which marked a musical shift for the label. In a Songfacts interview with Coffey, he said: “Norman wanted to change the sound of Motown, and I was the guy that helped him do it. He wanted to get into that protest and social consciousness stuff, so I did that fuzz tone thing up high on ‘War.'”

Starr added the interjections “good God y’all” and “absolutely nothing,” which became some of the most famous ad-libs in music history.

Starr won the Grammy Award for Best R&B Male Vocal for this song.

Starr died of a heart attack in 2003. He was 61.

Starr’s rendition was released in ’70, rocketing straight up to Number One and holding firm there for about a month. I was 10 years old myself and well remember what a monster hit “War” was; it was absolutely all over AM radio that summer, which in those glorious days was exactly where any artist and record label needed a new release to be if it was to ever have a hope of amounting to anything. As you might expect, I got the .45 from my uncle’s drugstore just as soon as I could get my hands on it. Wish I still had it, too; God only knows what it would be worth on eBay now.

5
2
0 0 votes
Article Rating
3 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Skeptic

Can we acknowledge how awful the lip synching is on that clip?

Ironbear

I only watched Soul Train for the dancers, man.

kennycan

Same here for American Bandstand.

Recent Comments

Comments policy

Comments appear entirely at the whim of the guy who pays the bills for this site and may be deleted, ridiculed, maliciously edited for purposes of mockery, or otherwise pissed over as he in his capricious fancy sees fit. The CF comments section is pretty free-form and rough and tumble; tolerance level for rowdiness and misbehavior is fairly high here, but is NOT without limit. Management is under no obligation whatever to allow the comments section to be taken over and ruined by trolls, Leftists, and/or other oxygen thieves, and will take any measures deemed necessary to prevent such. Conduct yourself with the merest modicum of decorum, courtesy, and respect and you'll be fine. Pick pointless squabbles with other commenters, fling provocative personal insults, issue threats, or annoy the host (me) and...you won't. Should you find yourself sanctioned after running afoul of the CF comments policy as stated and feel you have been wronged, please download and complete the Butthurt Report form below in quadruplicate; retain one copy for your personal records and send the others to the email address posted in the right sidebar. Please refrain from whining, sniveling, and/or bursting into tears and waving your chubby fists around in frustrated rage, lest you suffer an aneurysm or stroke unnecessarily. Your completed form will be reviewed and your complaint addressed whenever management feels like getting around to it. Thank you.

Categories

Archives

Subscribe to CF!

Support options

Shameless begging

If you enjoy the site, please consider donating:

Notable Quotes

"America is at that awkward stage. It's too late to work within the system, but too early to shoot the bastards." – Claire Wolfe, 101 Things to Do 'Til the Revolution

"There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters." — Daniel Webster

“The illusion of freedom will continue as long as it’s profitable to continue the illusion. At the point where the illusion becomes too expensive to maintain, they will just take down the scenery, they will pull back the curtains, they will move the tables and chairs out of the way and you will see the brick wall at the back of the theater.” – Frank Zappa

“The right of a nation to kill a tyrant in case of necessity can no more be doubted than to hang a robber, or kill a flea.” - John Adams

"It is terrible to contemplate how few politicians are hanged." - GK Chesterton

"I predict that the Bush administration will be seen by freedom-wishing Americans a generation or two hence as the hinge on the cell door locking up our freedom. When my children are my age, they will not be free in any recognizably traditional American meaning of the word. I’d tell them to emigrate, but there’s nowhere left to go. I am left with nauseating near-conviction that I am a member of the last generation in the history of the world that is minimally truly free." - Donald Surber

"The only way to live free is to live unobserved." - Etienne de la Boiete

"History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or the timid." — Dwight D. Eisenhower

"To put it simply, the Left is the stupid and the insane, led by the evil. You can’t persuade the stupid or the insane and you had damn well better fight the evil." - Skeptic

"There is no better way to stamp your power on people than through the dead hand of bureaucracy. You cannot reason with paperwork." - David Black, from Turn Left For Gibraltar

"The limits of tyranny are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress." - Frederick Douglass

"Give me the media and I will make of any nation a herd of swine." - Joseph Goebbels

“I hope we once again have reminded people that man is not free unless government is limited. There’s a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics: As government expands, liberty contracts.” - Ronald Reagan

"Ain't no misunderstanding this war. They want to rule us and aim to do it. We aim not to allow it. All there is to it." - NC Reed, from Parno's Peril

"I just want a government that fits in the box it originally came in." - Bill Whittle

Best of the best

Neutral territory

Alternatives to shitlib social media:

Fuck you

Kill one for mommy today! Click to embiggen

Image swiped from The Last Refuge

2016 Fabulous 50 Blog Awards

RSS feed

RSS - entries - Entries
RSS - entries - Comments

Contact


mike at this URL dot com

All e-mails assumed to be legitimate fodder for publication, scorn, ridicule, or other public mockery unless otherwise specified

Boycott the New York Times -- Read the Real News at Larwyn's Linx

Copyright © 2021